The Meaning of Easter: Life

by Daniel Downs

The synoptic gospels recount events leading to the trial, his bloody crucifixion of Jesus, his burial in a borrowed, tomb, and his resurrection from the dead. Those same gospels also speak of the reason for both his death and resurrection. As sacrificial lamb of God, Jesus came to redeem us moral criminals from the just punishment of death. He bore the burden of divine judgment of our crimes against God’s moral law on the cross. He suffered the pains of death behind the bars of hell that we will for eternity. Most important of all, the only sinless man to have ever lived was raised from the dead by God. Why? So that we who are guilty but accept God’s covenantal offer of Jesus can be pardoned; so that, with the help of God, we can live without a criminal record whether past, present, or future; so that we can live under God’s just rule in freedom and peace forever. All of which is the fulfillment of Isaiah 53. (See Matthew 26-28; Mark 14-16; Luke 22-24; John 18-21 & 13-17)

We find a summary of benefits for accepting God’s covenant of redemption through Jesus in Psalms 103:1-5:

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

In this summary, we see the meaning of “abundant life” that the good shepherd provides both by his leadership and by sacrificing his life for well-being of his sheep. (John 10:1-18)

Jesus apostle Paul explained how Jesus’ sacrificial life extended those benefits to include material or financial abundance. That explanation is found in 2 Corinthians 8:9 & 9:8. Although not mentioned by Paul, all of these benefits are the fulfillment of God’s law. (Deuteronomy 7:12-16)

However, the ultimate benefit of covenantal redemption is living with Jesus in God’s heavenly city forever. That means our mortal existence is not all there is. The proof is our redemptive experience now (Ephesians 1:14). Our taste of eternal life with God now inspires anticipation for life without the pain and problems of sin and death faced in this mortal life. That is why people follow Jesus who overcame both sin and death. (1 Corinthians 15)

Easter is the celebration of such a life.

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